I moved house in June. I was sharing a small, cramped flat with a woman who barely ate and when she did, it was restricted to cereal, crackers, and tinned tuna. (No, we didn't have a great deal in common.) For 18 months I tried hard to make this clinical box feel like home. However, between my housemate's disinterest in food and having a living room that felt more like a doctor's waiting room, I failed.
Now, I live in a huge house with wooden floors, a garden, and a kitchen that is the hub of operations. My cookery books are usually scattered across the dining table and there's always something new to try. Anyone who knows me can see how much happier I am.
This house is my home, and as a consequence I feel comfortable practising the rituals that I have in my other homes. One of these rituals is baking bread. Back in the clinical flat with a housemate who wouldn't share my food, baking bread didn't help to make it feel homely; it made me feel like an anomaly. This house is a bread-making home, though.
I don't have a bread machine and it's not nearly as time-consuming as you might think, especially if you use this recipe. It's a slight variation on the Grant Loaf, which was invented by Doris Grant in 1944. I use spelt flour for much of my baking, but it has a very delicate gluten structure that is easily destroyed by kneading. This recipe doesn't require any kneading. It's ideal.
If you've never baked bread before, start here. You'll have a loaf that's slightly more dense than an average sandwich loaf, but it is by no means leaden. It makes great toast and really good sandwiches.
- 700g (1½lb) spelt flour
- 1 tspn sea salt
- 1½ tspn quick acting yeast
- 600ml (1 pint) warm water
- 1 rounded tspn honey
Measure the flour and salt into a large bowl and warm it gently. (Place it in a low oven for few minutes.) It helps to activate the yeast.
Add the yeast to the flour.
Dissolve the honey in the tepid water and then pour into a well in the flour.
Mix using your hands for one or two minutes. You should make a dough that feels elastic and slippery, but is quite wet. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl cleanly.
Tip it into a greased 900g (2lb) loaf tin and cover it with a damp cloth. Allow it to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until the dough is almost at the top of the tin.
When the dough is risen, bake it in a pre-heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes at 200° Celsius.
Test your loaf by tipping it out of the tin and rapping it on its base: if it sounds hollow, it's done. If it sounds heavy and dull, pop it back in the oven for five minutes and test again.
Then all you need to do is enjoy it.
Music to cook to: It's not exactly music, but Today, Radio 4